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Desktop Linux on x86 - Adapt or Die 924

Posted by Zonk
from the shift-the-paradigm dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The recent announcement of Apple's upcoming x86 systems has gotten a lot of people thinking. Among the conjecture, there has been much thought given to how Linux will be affected by this move. The author of this article does not believe that Linux as a whole is threatened harmed by the 'Mactel' alliance, but does point out that his could mean major trouble for distros like Xandros and Linspire which are reliant on the desktop audience. These distros are clearly not ready to take on OS X, which will soon be the primary x86 alternative to Windows XP not only because of OS X's dedicated and outspoken user base but because of its slick looks and ease of use."
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Desktop Linux on x86 - Adapt or Die

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  • But OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Decameron81 (628548) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:25PM (#12857695)
    But OTOH this may turn out to be a good thing by actually making Linux distributions concentrate more on making easy to use OSes.
    • I guess that depends on wether it is a good thing to dumb down things.

      If this factor leads to new 'easier to use' distros that is fine. If it means a good current distro goes Fischer-Price, it's a bad thing.
      • Re:But OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:10PM (#12857976)
        There's a difference between "dumbing down" an OS, and giving an OS and applications consistent and easy-to-use interfaces. Apple makes things easy by giving programs similar interfaces and similar menu structures.

        Microsoft's interfaces are much more Fisher-Price than Apple's. Unfortunately, Fisher-Price doesn't mean simpler to understand.

        • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Interesting)

          by anagama (611277)

          I got a mac recently. I like it quite a bit but it does have some flaws. In fact, there is one flaw that is amazingly annoying -- no middle-click paste. The only saving grace is that quanta runs under X11 and I can middle-click there. But it drives me crazy when I'm using aqua apps and simply highlight, switch apps, try to paste, then have to redo the process with ctrl-c type strokes. It's really a downer.

        • Re:But OTOH (Score:4, Funny)

          by ArmorFiend (151674) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @09:41PM (#12859518) Homepage Journal

          There's a difference between "dumbing down" an OS, and giving an OS and applications consistent and easy-to-use interfaces. Apple makes things easy by giving programs similar interfaces and similar menu structures.


          In truth, Apple has a long way to go too.

          Why just the other day, I was trying to set up wireless on our houseguest's ibook. I had to type in the essid and the WEP password. "password?" I thought ... what password? There's just a hex key. Well, I'll type in the hex key, see if that works. No. Well I'll press the help button, and see what it tells me. Roughly paraphrasing, here was the help of the "user friendly" Apple OS X:

          Put the name of the wireless network in the "name" field, and your password in the "password" field.

          Okay, screw this, I'm going to Google. After some futzing around, it turns out that to enter a hex key one has to put a '$' before the key. That's completely unintuitive, and not documented. What a load of overhyped bantha poodoo is this OS X...
          • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Informative)

            by macshome (818789)
            Erm.

            You just pick what kind of key you are using (ASCII, hex, WPA) from the pick list and type it in.

            What version where you looking at?
        • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Arker (91948)
          That's very true.

          And I love my Mac.

          But truth be told, the Mac can be annoyingly toyish too. Not nearly as often as Windows, but it's there for sure.

          The interface guidelines have slid downhill since OS9, the glowing gumdrops widgets annoy the hell out of anyone trying to get real work done, and of course Macs have always, and continue, to insist on the particular way they want you to do it, which is not always optimal for anyone but a rank beginner. I know, for instance, I agree with the poster that misse
        • Re:But OTOH (Score:4, Informative)

          by Air-conditioned cowh (552882) on Monday June 20, 2005 @12:28AM (#12860290)
          After my recent experiences of using a Mac I can see it is _usually_ easy to use. However the error messages when they appear are completely useless. Messages like "the disk can not be burned right now".

          OK, why not?!! How do I fix it?!!

          Not sure if that was an _exact_ example of what I remember seeing but you get the idea.

          Easy to use until something goes slightly wrong. And it also still has (Apple) apps with greyed-out options with no clue given as to why they haved been greyed out.
          • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TractorBarry (788340)
            Well said that man !

            Those sort of glib, uninformative error messages are the bane of computing. If you're a programmer and this is how you handle errors you're a waste of time.

            The only place I'd say this approach was acceptable would be software for a kiosk type app but for a desktop app it's inexcusably poor.

            At the very least there should be a way to retrieve additional details from the error prompt (perhaps a button if it's a GUI app) Activating this "additional details" option should then give a ful
        • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr (53032)
          Microsoft's interfaces are much more Fisher-Price

          I really don't think you're being fair to Fisher-Price. They design their products very well for their target audience.

          -jcr

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:37PM (#12858142)
        I guess that depends on wether it is a good thing to dumb down things.

        Producing an interface that is both easy to use and powerful is not a job for dumb people. On the contrary, achieving simplicity while retaining flexibility usually requires very smart people indeed.

        Equally, a smart person who wants to get something down rather than just play around is always going to choose a simple-but-effective interface that's efficient over a super-l337, infinitely-customisable, but ultimately more time-consuming and difficult one.

        Consider a programming analogy: suppose two developers write code that ultimately achieves the same thing. Say one of them writes 200 lines of intricate technical detail, taking advantage of advanced features offered by the programming language, while the other writes 20 lines using nothing but the most basic language constructs. Which of these is the smart programmer?

    • I agree with parent poster. Survival of the fittest. The weaker of the distros would obviously have to evolve radically or die. Linux faces some big challenges:

      1) to have solid easy-to-use bundled apps that work out of the box (ala Apple's iLife suite)

      2) to have consistency throughout the OS (actually, this is something that Apple's been having problems with in its own GUI with OS X)

      3) Linux needs a much better GUI (and, no - the Windows-like interface doesn't cut it)

      • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anagama (611277)

        Recent mac purchaser (powerbook prior to Tiger). So Tiger comes out and I think "that looks cool", except it's $129 to try it out on one machine ($200 for 5 (and I have two macs here)). In contrast, Hoary Hedgehog comes out and I've got two other machines upgraded in no time, no cost. And you know what, I like the linux DEs. Linux might not take over the entire world -- but so what? Why is that the test? How about these:
        • Does it work?
        • Is it easy for me to use?
        • Does it do what I want?

        Honestly, som

      • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SeventyBang (858415)


        I don't think survival of the fittest is ever the right phrase[1]. I propose survival of the most adaptable. You can be the fittest in one environment or set of circumstances but when the situation changes; e.g. Apple moving to x86, what defines the fittest changes. The ability to adapt to whatever is going on and where it's taking place is what counts.

        The GUI is an understatement. The strategy of Windows-like but not Windows will not win in the long run. It's not an improvement. Mac is the right
        • Re:But OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:09PM (#12858741) Journal
          Next question: When will it be time for Linux to stop being one size fits all? At some point, Linux will have to fork to server and client in order to survive with all of the other occupants riding in the x86 boat. No matter how much people want to defend Linux and see it as invincible, its unity will become its downfall.

          That's just a load of baloney. In the Windows world, the division between desktop and server OS is largely artificial (limiting clients and CPUs). There's no harm in having a kernel that can handle network file systems or firewalling running on a desktop. I've done it plenty. There are specific situations (like embedded systems) where you will obviously want a small kernel with a minimum of tools, but those are specialized situations.

          Take a look at Ubuntu. It's a minimalist, desktop distro. Comes with a browser, email, office suite and some multimedia utilities. Nothing to stop you from install MySQL, Apache or whatever if you want.

          The only reason to create "server" and "client" operating systems is rake in the money at both ends of the spectrum. It's a licensing fiction which makes guys like MS considerable amounts of money. Why would you want to lock Linux into such a thing? If you don't want a server-class Linux, don't install the server components.

    • Re:But OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:59PM (#12857901) Journal
      That's an initial conclusion you might come to, but it's not really all that helpful, and here's why:

      Everyone already knows that Linux needs a lot of work to become a viable mass market desktop. We've known it for quite a while. We even know a lot of the specific was in which it could be improved to bring it closer to this goal. So why isn't it getting done?

      Some developers completely don't care about that. They use linux for what they use it for, and a polished gui desktop is not important to them. The success of Linux as a desktop OS means nothing to them.

      Some think it's good enough, and that users should become more competent. A lot of Linux's woes are blamed on these sorts of developers, but I don't think there's as many of them as all the complaining would leave you to believe.

      I'm guessing most Linux developers would love to have a more polished interface, but they don't want to do it, because it's boring work. The fact of the matter is, proofreading dialog boxes and checking for consistent menu options and whatnot is not all that fun. Linux development happens mostly through hobbyists, and they're going to spend their free time doing what they enjoy.

      No, to really get the crappy work done, you've got to get paid. And right now, at least, it's hard to convince someone that there's money to be made paying for linux desktop development. The mere fact that the GPL requires you to give away the source code to anyone you sell it to makes the financial future of any investments questionable. You can't push service contracts on people the same way that you can with businesses, because people don't want to pay for that. I

      I think the only way that it could work is something closer to Apple's model, where you're selling an entire system, and the integration between the hardware and the software is what you're really paying for. The complete experience. Otherwise, you're going up against the MS juggernaut completely head on, and you also have to compete against free versions of yourself. I have a hard time believing that that will work.

      I guess there's more of a "workstation" market that could be targeted, and you might even be able to sell service contracts with those, but the workstation market is sort of fragmented, and there are lots of specialty needs, and I'd think it would be hard for your company to meet enough of those needs quickly enough to make money.
      • Re:But OTOH (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bfields (66644) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:51PM (#12858243) Homepage
        Everyone already knows that Linux needs a lot of work to become a viable mass market desktop. We've known it for quite a while. We even know a lot of the specific was in which it could be improved to bring it closer to this goal. So why isn't it getting done?

        Well, it clearly is *getting* done: anyone who's actually used Gnome, for example, for the last five years or so can see that enormous amounts of work have gone into making a usable desktop.

        As for why it isn't actually *done* yet, there's a much simpler reason: because it's really, really hard work, and that kind of thing takes time.

        Linux development happens mostly through hobbyists...

        Really? These days there are a *ton* of people working full-time on linux development (I should know, I am one...), so a statement like that requires evidence....

        --Bruce Fields

        • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

          In terms of ease of use one of the biggest problems for Linux on the desktop is that the GUIs and DEs are just that, GUIs and DEs. They run in BSD, Linux, Solaris, . They're not being set up with a specific OS in mind which means a lot of GUI tools for doing things aren't there. SuSE has YaST and I know some of the other distros have their own tools, but often their integration leaves much to be desired.

          What it boils down to is that for a successful desktop distro to come around (in my opinion anyway) it n
      • Re:But OTOH (Score:3, Informative)

        by akc (207721)

        I'm guessing most Linux developers would love to have a more polished interface, but they don't want to do it, because it's boring work. The fact of the matter is, proofreading dialog boxes and checking for consistent menu options and whatnot is not all that fun. Linux development happens mostly through hobbyists, and they're going to spend their free time doing what they enjoy.

        I have heard that sort of assertion several times before, but I don't believe it is true. You only have to hang out on the kde

    • Re:But OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by I_Love_Pocky! (751171) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @08:27PM (#12859123)
      I keep reading all of these articles about how Linux is in trouble because Macs are going to be using x86, and to me it sounds like a lot of hot air.

      The primary flaw with that line of reasoning is that MacOS is not going to be available for just any x86 system. It isn't like people can go out, and buy OSX to replace their current Linux installation. In reality, because of the hardware lock-in, OSX on x86 wont be any different than the current PowerPC state of affairs. If you want MacOS, you have to buy a Mac.

      The only real difference is that now Windows will be able to run on Mac hardware (Linux already could).

      The bottom line is that the processor change is going to have little impact outside of the Apple world unless they decide to change their mind about the hardware lock-in.
  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:26PM (#12857702) Homepage
    First off, there was discussion about how OsX on x86 might affect Linux - here [slashdot.org]

    Linux should be less worried. MS should be quaking in its' proverbial boots. Linux will remain because of its' use as a sever OS and the geek's premier OS. There might be a few people who make the switch from Linux to
    OSX, but I don't believe there will be a large shift. There will be a lot more people leaving Windows for the stability and look of OSX. The price point will be on par with any other Intel machine, and Apple could see a large increase in marketshare.

    And finally, a bit of a rant - WTF was the point of having the article spread across two pages? Keep it all on one - I don't want to have to click next for a 5+ paragraph article.
    The author makes this huge deal about the rumored Apple shift to Linux, and then at the end decides to say that it won't make any real affect anyway. Make up your mind!
    • "Linux should be less worried. MS should be quaking in its' proverbial boots. Linux will remain because of its' use as a sever OS and the geek's premier OS. There might be a few people who make the switch from Linux to
      OSX, but I don't believe there will be a large shift. There will be a lot more people leaving Windows for the stability and look of OSX. The price point will be on par with any other Intel machine, and Apple could see a large increase in marketshare."

      Not to mention that there are develop

    • "And finally, a bit of a rant - WTF was the point of having the article spread across two pages? Keep it all on one - I don't want to have to click next for a 5+ paragraph article."

      It's all about advertising, baby. Spread your article over two pages, you get 2x the hits. If it makes you feel better, I've offset your extra page hit by not reading the article :D

      "The author makes this huge deal about the rumored Apple shift to Linux, and then at the end decides to say that it won't make any real affect anyw
  • by suresk (816773) * <spencer@ureTIGERsk.net minus cat> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:27PM (#12857703) Homepage
    Maybe I'm just really stupid, but I still don't get why 'Mactel' is a threat to Linux in any way. Why is it even a threat to Linspire or Xandros? Why does your average desktop user care if they are using the x86 platform, or even know that they are using it? I think it is silly to say that two operating systems are 'competing' on a certain platform, because your average user doesn't care. What they do care about is how fast it is, what it can do, and how much it costs.

    Switching to the Intel platform only seems to do one thing: Lower the price somewhat. It won't make it so you can run OS X on commodity hardware, it won't make it so your Windows apps magically run on OS X, and it won't do anything else. So, if we are just talking price, there is no way Apple will lower the price to compete with Linspire systems. IMHO, the Mac Mini did more damage to desktop Linux than the move to x86 will, because it is cheap and simple.

    What is it that I am missing?
    • by Squareball (523165) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:31PM (#12857739)
      Ahmen brother! People are acting like OS X has been announced for generic X86 boxes and it hasn't. In the end you'll still have to buy a mac to use OS X so I don't see how this changes anything. The only difference is that it'll have Intel x86 inside instead of PPC. Other than that it will be the same damn thing.
    • by kfg (145172) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:38PM (#12857784)
      I still don't get why 'Mactel' is a threat to Linux in any way. Why is it even a threat to Linspire or Xandros?

      It isn't.

      What is it that I am missing?

      Not too many brain cells, for whatever comfort that may offer.

      KFG
    • by 0racle (667029) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:39PM (#12857786)
      While its true that OS X will have little effect in general, it would be more competition for Linspire and Xandros that they are not really used to. Both of those target switchers from Windows who do not want to know what their computer is doing, and now OS X comes along targeting the same people with a well known name and with a system that is known for being easy to use.

      If the Mac Mini did more damage to desktop Linux, imagine a cheaper version, with higher clock rates that can do everything a Linux desktop can, but has more software available to purchase for it, and of course has Office on it. Now if your average user only cares about 'how fast it is, what it can do, and how much it costs' and you see the Mac Mini doing damage, then what will one that hits all of the points that the average user cares about do to desktop Linux.

      Thats why its a threat to Linux distros that target users.
    • As I see it Apple had a problem, there just wasn't a real reason for owners of current G4+ systems to upgrade. They were adequate for their needs. Same with the notebook users.

      With a switch to the Intel platform Apple has provided a major reason to switch. Platform support. Either buy into the new hardware or face the possibility of being left behind - a possibility I suspect will be very much in force within a few years.

      As a threat to Linux on the desktop? How could it be? Linux itself doesn't have
  • Look, for all the naysaying going on, Linux keeps growing. There are several things missing, but these could be handled by the distros iff they would work together on these.

    Admin is the big one. Also, some nice apps that work together would be cool.
  • Don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moranar (632206) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:28PM (#12857710) Homepage Journal
    Everyone in the press seems to be thinking that now, magically, Apple computers will be price-competitive with wintel computers, or that OSX will be compatible with most computers out there. I see the need to spin and "create" news, but there's no indication whatsoever that this will be the case.

    Furthermore, some Apple honchos have stated that Mac OSX will _not_ be available for common computers.
    • Re:Don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333)
      Apple computers are already price competitive; $999 for an iBook, $1299 for an iMac...

      You would be right to assume that Apple doesn't compete for the bottom dollars, but for a classy, capable, usable system (plus charging for ease of use as a feature), Apple does fine. Not the greatest deal but also not the worst deal.

      Switching to Intel now makes Macs performance competitive. Before it was already price and feature competitive, offering reasonable prices, reasonable features, and reasonable usability, but
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:29PM (#12858086)
        You may be looking at PC prices from several years ago.

        $550 and $299 would be competitive.

      • Re:Don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pla (258480)
        Apple computers are already price competitive; $999 for an iBook, $1299 for an iMac...

        Competative in what market, exactly?

        I don't particularly want to let myself get drawn into a debate about Macs vs PCs, but the absolutely lowest priced Mac available, the stripped-down, all-but-useless Mac Mini, costs in the same range as a typical name-brand desktop PC.

        Going into the $1300 range, you can get some fairly sweet business-class machines from Dell, just shy of "with the works".
        • Re:Don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TERdON (862570)
          Actually, try to find me a 12" PC laptop, with a competitive price compared to the iBook. And a separate graphics chip with own memory is a demand.
          • Ok done. (Score:3, Informative)

            by zippthorne (748122)
            It took me more time to format and write this comment than it took me to find this:
            Toshiba Satellite [toshibadirect.com]

            for $999 (the price of the cheapest 12" ibook)
            you get:

            RAM: 512MB on board and one free slot,
            CPU: Intel mobile P4 (3.20GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 533MHz FSB)
            OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition (SP2)
            BUNDLED: No Microsoft® Office software
            I'm willing to count this as a feature :)
            SCREEN: 15.4" Wide-screen XGA Display w/TruBrite(TM) (1280x800)
            GFX CARD: ATI MOBILITY(TM) RADEON(TM) 9000 IGP w/up to
    • Re:Don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640)
      or that OSX will be compatible with most computers out there

      It already is, via PearPC. The only problem with PearPC is no hardware acceleration, and PPC->x86 translation.

      x86 OS X removes the need for PPC->x86 translation.

      Even if Apple locks the OS with DRM, DVDJon will have it cracked within a week. Yeah, you won't be able to just pop in the disk and install, but since we're talking Linux users here, they can handle a small boot image to load OS X with--it'll be easier than the "swap the disc" hac
  • More of the same. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SA Stevens (862201) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:29PM (#12857715)
    Why do some people think advocacy has to mean 'become more like the other'?

    I'm not convinced that everybody wants to pay a $150-300 license fee per CPU to run on all their 'desktop' systems.

    I'm not even conviced that Apple is going to allow their OS software to run on non-Apple hardware (but haven't we argued that point to death?).

    I am fairly certain that this 'issue' is just a new angle to bash linux and freenixes in general with. More of the same from the usual folks.
    • by stinerman (812158)
      I'm not convinced that everybody wants to pay a $150-300 license fee per CPU to run on all their 'desktop' systems.

      Point taken, but how many people in muliple computer homes paid Bill for seperate licenses on all the computers?
      • Re:More of the same. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by VStrider (787148) <giannis_mz@yaQUOTEhoo.co.uk minus punct> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:35PM (#12858131)
        These people need to realise that one day they will be forced to pay seperate licences. You cann't get away with it forever. And Microsoft has already started pressuring users and businesses to buy licences with the "genuine (dis?)advantage" program.

        With DRM and palladium coming, I think Microsoft will be able to enforce license purchases within the next 2 years. Notice I said 'be able'-they won't do it yet, not as long as there are viable free alternatives like Linux.

        So their strategy is to get as many users as possible on windows, pirated or not, and when there are only a few left on Linux, force everyone to pay. Then you'll look ofcourse for a free alternative, but it'll be too little too late.

        The funny thing is, most windows users with pirated versions, think they are 'cheating' Microsoft, while infact they are playing Microsoft's game. And Microsoft treats them like criminals, like they've done something bad. The same tactic banks use. They'll give you more credit than you can afford, and when you cann't pay it back on time, they'll blame you and treat you like you've done something bad. So people usually fall into the trap, borrow more than they can afford and end up paying extraordinary fees without complaining. After all, it's their fault...isn't it?

        These people need to stop thinking about short term convenience and think the long term implications of their actions.

        Nowdays, Linux is very easy to use and very powerful. There really is, no excuse not to use it.
  • x86 != PC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hungus (585181)
    Until Apple releases commercially OS X for running on standard PCs this is not even a factor. Since I seriously doubt that Apple is going to do that any time soon why are people still even going down tis path. There are to many issues with supporting clone PCs for Apple to even want to get into the game at the time being. It is all about user experience and a crashing system because of a driver conflict or something similar leads to a bad user experience.
  • Pure FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:29PM (#12857720) Homepage
    OSX isn't free and the intel Mac probably won't be anywhere cheap either. (it will be good, but not low-cost)

    OSX also has it's probelms it's not classic OS, and still has some old tim mac users grumbling about some of the loss of eas of use.

    What will hurt Linux is what has been hurting Linux, a steep learning curve, all-too-common installation issues, and lack of some key software to replace favoriate apps on other platforms. All of those can be solved via open source development but they just aren't as sexy to code or work on.

    • OSX isn't free

      That's not what matters. If it runs on off-the-shelf Intel hardware (which I heard it probably won't) and is pirateable, then that's all that matters.
    • Spin it this way, I can kinda see the point they're trying to make, "Why buy a Dell for 499 that runs that unsecure Windows OS when I can buy a Mac Mini using (nearly) the same hardware running the slick as shit OSX?"

      Joe Consumer likes to comparison shop and if they can get that idea in their head, Apple could start to see more Macs flying off shelves.
  • by dyfet (154716) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:30PM (#12857726) Homepage
    So long as OS/X is bound exclusivily to some "Apple specific" hardware, I do not think it makes much difference in terms of x86 GNU/Linux desktop adoption whether that hardware is PPC or X86.

    • I might be wrong, but since now at least the basic instruction set of the processor will be the same as on common hardware, there could be a hacked OS X at some time in the future.

      What I am sure about is that at least someone will try.
  • by doormat (63648) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:30PM (#12857732) Homepage Journal
    See, you can buy cheap hardware and run linux. OSX wont replace linux for those who are conscious about what money they have and what the hardware will cost.

    MS should be worried shitless that, one day, Apple will release OSX for all x86 desktops and put a big dent in MS's marketshare. Unless Apple signed some no-OS-compete agreement forever with MS, they have a lot more to worry about in the long run (think 10+ years).
  • Well, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neurokaotix (892464) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:30PM (#12857733)
    Linux has had a decent head start on x86 to make its penetration into the desktop market, if the best thing going for it is Linspire AND they are worried about losing the desktop market then it's clear that they should have poured more time into that particular aspect of computing.

    Personally, I don't see why you might want OSX on PC hardware as Apple is more of a platform company than anything else. The software and the hardware go hand-in-hand.

    I don't think OSX will have any more penetration into the desktop market than Linux has had for one simple reason -- the desktop market is the noob market. Plain and simple. Noobs are too preconditioned to Windows right now.
    • Re:Well, (Score:3, Funny)

      by nunchux (869574)
      don't think OSX will have any more penetration into the desktop market than Linux has had for one simple reason -- the desktop market is the noob market. Plain and simple. Noobs are too preconditioned to Windows right now.

      You keep using that word "noob." I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • The fact that you're buying an Apple box with an Intel chip inside instead of an Apple box with an IBM chip inside is going to mean that all of a sudden OS X will be competing with Linux where it wasn't before. People use processors, not computers or operating systems.

    Frankly, I see OS X and linux as more complimentary than anything. Almost all of the OS X "switchers" I've personally encountered in the last few years have been not desktop users, but UNIX-centered power users who found themselves suddenly v
  • Fanatical and shrill, maybe. Mac OS is only going to run on Apple PCs, whereas Linspire and others sell their OSs cheaply for low-cost computers.
  • MacTel is a threat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:39PM (#12857792)
    I write this as a former Windows user, occasional Linux desktop user and new Mac user:

    The reason I switched from Windows is that the features I wanted (better shell, nicer GUI, easier to use programs, better workspace, more scriptability and easier to organize folders) was already on the Mac.

    Sure, Linux has some of these features. The problem, I've found is also an 'apparent' strength of other 'Nix systems: X, KDE, Gnome and a whole slew of Window Managers and DEs. I say apparent, because, frankly, with all the work that has gone into each DE and WM, Linux could have one (maybe) two really kick-ass desktop environments. Insead everything would work well together. And something has to be done with the library compatibility problems.

    I only want some OSS programs. I don't really care about having an OSS (GLD' whatever) Operating System. I'll pay for the OS. Heck, I just bought a Mac and am really happy. I just like to have 'options'! Doesn't everyone?

  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:40PM (#12857793) Homepage
    The future of Linux in the server market is secure simply because IBM has invested in Linux on the server. IBM never abandons rich customers who have purchased legacy (which, in this case, is Linux servers) from IBM.

    However, the desktop is where Linux will die before it is even established. Apple will not drive a stake into the heart of Linux, but rather, the hordes of hackers and Taiwanese-run peripheral factories in China will kill Linux on the desktop. There are 3 scenarios. First, the hackers write a patch that will enable Mac OS X to run on conventional x86-based IBM PC clones. Second, the Taiwanese engineers will violate scores of American patents and build a cheap (possibly, $10.00) hardware plug-in card that will enable OS X to run on conventional IBM PC clones. The 3rd possibility is a combination of the first two.

    An interesting side effect of these efforts will be taking marketshare from Windows XP and successors. In the server market, Linux has taken market share from UNIX instead of Windows. However, on the x86 desktop market, there is no 3rd OS to compete against MAC OS X. There are only 2 OSes: Windows and OS X on x86. They will compete head-on, against each other.

    Although I would rather that Apple have picked another processor (e.g. ARM), I would be pleased to see Apple crush Windows on x86. Apple has a good chance of winning this matchup since the goodwill of open-source developers is on the side of Apple.

    Apple's team: million-person army of open-source developers + freeBSD + most-consumer-friendly (i.e. idiot proof) OS called OS X
    Microsoft's team: couple thousand paid but possibly disgruntled slaves (including) H-1Bs + consumer-unfriendly OS[1]. "It" is no contest. Apple wins by 70% marketshare.

    side note
    ---------
    1. Windows 98 requires daily reboots in order to be stable. Windows XP requires weekly reboots in order to be stable.

    • So you're saying the millions(yes millions) of desktop(yes desktop) linux users today will switch to OSX and desktop linux will die? Not likely. Remeber those google zeitgeist OS stats? There are nearly as many desktop linux users today as mac users, and the momentum is great, and the attitudes of you mac fanboys have turned us far away from the mac.
  • Is it just me...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cross-Threaded (893172) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:40PM (#12857798)
    Or, is it that nothing is really going to change, save that Intel gets Apple's money instead of IBM???
  • Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by standards (461431) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:43PM (#12857814)
    [T]his could mean major trouble for distros like Xandros and Linspire which are reliant on the desktop audience

    But more likely, Mac-on-Intel will have no impact on Xandros or Linspire. After all, the Mac platform exists today - and you don't see the Linspire folks all panicky about it.

    Let's face it - those who use Linspire or Xandros do so because it is either (1) packaged with a bottom-tier PC, or (2) it's fun.

    This is does not describe the Mac user. The Mac user wants a smooth, much-better-than-Windows experience... and is willing to pay for a quality PC to do so. The Mac user doesn't care about the chipset, as long as there is a significantly better user experience than that offered by Windows.

    In the future, I doubt you're going to see any name-brand quality PCs with proprietary OSs at Walmart. These very low cost products fit the dirt-cheap niche. If they improve, they could compete with the Mac. If not, they can compete with Windows on price and experience, and they can compete with the Mac on price alone.

    In a nutshell, the chipset is less important than the price and the user experience.

  • by Michael_Burton (608237) <michaelburton@brainrow.com> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:46PM (#12857832) Homepage

    As a long-time Macintosh user, Apple's move to Intel chips has actually sparked my interest in Linux.

    It's not yet entirely clear why Apple chose Intel. There is some reason to suspect Intel hardware will ease implementation of system-wide DRM capabilities. Time will tell.

    The microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and '80s was about individuals controlling machines that had once been the exclusive domain of governments and big corporations. Now DRM, product activation, live updates and other technologies are being used to take back that control. Well, I'm not going back.

    I don't doubt that the Linux desktop might seem crude in comparison to Mac OS X. But if Apple chose Intel to help put DRM everywhere, then I, for one, will be more than willing to go "rough it" with the free souls of the Linux world.

    • At WWDC, Jobs made it quite clear why they chose Intel. The performace per watt of power of Intel chips was massively higer then for PowerPC and the gap was predicted to get wider.

      Jobs wants to lose the costly liquid cooling in the G5s and make faster powerbooks. This is clearly reason enough without the need for any ulterior motive. All this DRM stuff is just Linux community FUD.
    • Huh? Apple has made it quite clear they aren't huge fans of DRM, and will only use it when forced to. The Apple engineers I've talked to have made it quite clear this move was about laptop chips and speed.
  • Somehow I doubt OS X will be cheaper than MS Windows, and that many inexpensive PCs will come with it bundled. Linspire competes with Microsoft by price, not quality. No way OS X could replace it. It's on the opposite end of the price scale!
  • Finally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aCapitalist (552761) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:47PM (#12857839)
    After all of the "Is This the Death of Linux" articles after the OSX-x86 announcement someone actually puts "the Desktop" qualifier in the title. geez.
  • by Morganth (137341) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:48PM (#12857845) Journal
    To think that most users who run Linux on their desktop are doing so only because they don't like Windows is to misunderstand desktop linux entirely.

    I'll try to summarize the benefits desktop Linux has over other OSes, and why this is nonsense:

    (1) Desktop Linux distros come with hundreds of quality desktop applications, installed and license-free, at no cost. Productivity applications, web browsers, FTP clients, e-mail/PIM programs, messengers, not to mention the rich GNU heritage of command-line tools, a variety of programming environments, etc. This is all installed and ready-to-use after the installation completes on your PC. Thousands more software packages are available in a few clicks via Synaptic/Red Carpet/Yast or whatever. Mac OS X and Windows simply _do not compare_ in this respect.

    (Disclosure: It's true that Mac OS has some access to these apps via Apple's X11 and Fink/Darwinports, but you have to admit it's not the same as having these be a "real" part of your desktop.)

    (2) Linux will run on a TON of hardware, including old hardware, which means you can use to "revitalize" existing machines and save money.

    (3) Linux is always uttered in the same sentence with "open source" and more particularly "open source innovation." For people who want to be a part of the open source movement, Linux (or BSDs) is the natural choice. For people who want to be free of proprietary software, to even the slightest degree, will stick with Linux.

    (4) Linux, as a kernel, is hyper-configurable. You can strip it down or compile everything in. Tweakers and power users like this idea.

    (5) The "slick GUI" advantage of OS X will rapidly disappear over the next few years, as desktop linux developers make more progress with XOrg, composite, direct rendering, etc.

    (6) Linux being used very often as a server, it's just as simple to install major server apps (Apache, Tomcat, mysql, vsftpd etc.) as other apps.

    (7) The typical Linux environment is highly, highly scriptable.

    Don't think desktop linux is dead. I actually believe that all these pundits are completely wrong. Open source desktop Linux developers will now unite to innovate more so than ever before. This move, if anything, will galvanize developers. Hell, it's already gotten me to get off my ass and start working on something new. I look forward to the future, and you should too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:07PM (#12857959)
    And they never will. First you've got the isolated CLI users, happily coding support for their obscure hardware, believing that it somehow improves the greater good. Then you've got the various desktop evironment makers, none of whom understand that "less is more." That's why KDE's default menu is cluttered with a million apps that 90% of their audience will never use, why GNOME's is hardly better and why even Xfce is slower than Explorer. They're so busy copying Windows or failing at copying OS X, they don't even realize what they've created: a monstrous conglomerate of ill fitting software and hardware that rarely "just works."

    Look at OS X. Take the Dock for example. Users routinely run only a handful of applications, so why clutter the screen with a lengthy Start/K/GNOME menu? The Xfce guys realized this, though OS X's drag-and-drop support is still several months away (I am on the Xfce developer mailing list). But Xfce still has way too many stupid options in its control panels.

    So we've got X.org. X is dead... long live X! Look what's coming: hardware alpha blending, dynamic desktop backgrounds wow! But when will I be able to install by dragging it to the "applications" folder? Or need no install at all? When will X.org not require the user to edit a text file to configure it? Probably never, because linux users just don't care.

    You Linux guys just adapt to poor ways and live with it. You're too conservative. You need to rout out all of the shit making up a typical "desktop" linux system. Get rid of the fucking start menus, omit unnecessary system options. Don't give the user forty ways of configuring low-power responses if only four of them are sensible. Hell make it automatic if that gets the job done. The same with everything else. Desktop users don't want power, they want simplicity. They don't want wizards or perfect documentation, they want absence and transparency. Good interfaces don't need documentation.

    How many of you reading this, when sending an email in Thunderbird actually changed the "from" field? Maybe ten out two hundred; everyone else just keeps it the same, week after week. So why the fuck is that option there? Why isn't it there in Apple's Mail? Because you Linux dimwits are obsessed, in the traditional American fashion, of attempting to satisfy 100% of users 100% of the time, ignoring the fact that those ten folks who change their "from" fields could just alter their own behavior and get on with honest emails.

    O'Reilly publishing its "learning blah" books. You know, it'd be great if you didn't need a $40-70 book to explain it to you.

    I used to love linux, but I gave that up for a Mac. No more "ps -ax," no more "su; chmod 755." And like most of us linux-turned-mac users, I realized there's more to life than trying to fix my sound support or looking up the right vi command sequence. But none of you linux users have. And so the Linux "desktop" community will stumble its way into the future, twenty paths, all wrong, while in another world Apple gets it right.

    jc - mnemonic

    P.S. If there's one thing that taught me a lot about decent GUI design, it's learning how to format a document. I mean choosing fonts, designing headings and learning how to write. Tables never need borders, text doesn't usually need colors. By just realizing that to communicate well, one must communicate less, I realized how stupid Windows, KDE and GNOME all are.
    • "Look at OS X. Take the Dock for example."

      So right click on the KDE panel and install a couple docks. No big deal. I put one up on top that I keep visable with a digital clock, and a dictionary lookup entry widget, and links to documents that are currently in play alot. My math and physics software all goes on a hidden dock to my left. Office software on a hidden dock to the right. These are all drag n' drop. No big deal to configure. And yes, the icons zoom when I mouse over them. I can set tran
    • That's why KDE's default menu is cluttered with a million apps that 90% of their audience will never use, why GNOME's is hardly better and why even Xfce is slower than Explorer.

      When will X.org not require the user to edit a text file to configure it?


      Ok, if that's your desktop linux experience, then you've either been living under a box for the last three years, or you haven't used linux for the last five. The only retort I will bother with...Ubuntu Hoary w/ Gnome 2.10. Very nice distro with an out of the
  • by bahamat (187909) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:26PM (#12858075) Homepage
    These distros are clearly not ready to take on OS X, which will soon be the primary x86 alternative to Windows

    No distro is ready to take on OS X, on x86 or any other platform. The day OS X came out Linux GUI developers should have instantly shifted focus to being as much like the Mac as possible rather than as much like Windows as possible.

    The greatest failing of both GNOME and KDE desktops is that they try too much to be like Windows. I used Linux as my desktop exclusively for 5 years, and every time GNOME or KDE came out with a new release I would give it a try. I've used almost every WM as my desktop in that period and the only one was not a pain in the ass to use was WindowMaker. WindowMaker was based on NeXT, and Mac OS X is the evolution of NeXT. This is not brain surgury. It's disappointing that there hasn't been a fork of WindowMaker to create an Aqua enviornment on Linux.

    There's only one company on earth that has created a successful UNIX based desktop system. I think that every Linux developer should sit up and take notice of that fact.
  • by MrPerfekt (414248) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:45PM (#12858193) Homepage Journal
    Everyday theres another one of these stories... WHY? After I've thought about this for a while, it makes no sense for anybody to worry one way or the other. The reason I say this is because a Mac will still be a Mac and a beige box will still be a beige box after the arch switch.

    Macs will still be priced much higher than the average beige PC. OS X will still (officially) be locked down to Macs. Those are the two things that could effect Linux. Even then, I don't think either of those things happening will hurt much because grandma is still going to buy a Mac and little teen geek is still probably going to buy a beige box with Linux.

    So could we please stop with these stories that are so anxious to see Linux take a hit.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:30PM (#12858511) Homepage
    I don't see what the concern is. If Apple had announced that they were going to sell OS/X as a software-only product that you could install on any PC, then perhaps it would be competing with Linux. But they are only going to be selling OS/X to run on their own Apple branded hardware, which means that for the vast majority of people (i.e. those that already own an x86 PC and those that just want to buy a cheap machine, and aren't willing to pay the "Apple cool design surcharge"), OS/X will continue not to be an option.


    Even if someone hacks OS/X to run on non-Apple hardware, it won't have much of an effect, because you can bet that OS/X will not run well on non-Apple hardware. And having an OS that runs well is the whole point of running OS/X -- if people want a broken OS with missing-driver hell, they already have Windows installed for that.


    I guess it might become problematic for Linux if Apple started to take over the computer hardware market and the majority of PCs sold were Apples with OS/X pre-installed... but I'll believe that when I see it happen.

  • by stealth.c (724419) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @08:13PM (#12859059)
    This Apple thing is irrelevant. Desktop Linux needs to adapt no more and no less than it did before the announcement (In fact, all that's changed because of the announcement is now EVERYBODY knows PPC has no future, not just Apple).

    The desktop development projects will continue, and anything under the GPL is effectively immortal. Progress will continue to be made on GNOME/KDE etc.

    There seems to be a notion that if OSS Unices don't get themselves a GUI comparable to OSX soon, "we" have lost some kind of battle and the world will be shrouded in darkness.

    But OSS has all the time in the world, as long as there is commodity hardware. Just make a good GUI and the people who want freedom will take it. The sky, contrary to Slashdot groupthink, IS NOT FALLING.
  • by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @11:41PM (#12860088) Journal

    Nice to see that so many die hard linux "freedom fighters" have dropped everything they were waving the flag for a few years ago and taken the "easy way out". I don't blame them....If they did not have the guts to stick around, then we don't need them.

    I for one am proud of all of the strides that free unix based operating systems have taken over the last few years, and am saddened by the people that have drifted away to the easier path.

    Hopefully, much like their new "friends" in the Apple world, this wall of conversion (or apostasy) that I have seen of late is just a very vocal minority.

  • by The OPTiCIAN (8190) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:21AM (#12860732)
    After the move to x86, Apple will continue to be Apple. Except for the possible inclusion of an intel inside sticker on the box, they will be proprietary machines running mac os x, something you won't be able to run on different hardware, and popular with end users.

    Linux fills and has always filled a completely different genre - that of solid geeky type who like it for its idealogical purity, flexibility or because it's a bit unusual. The changes the Apple decision makes are minor:
    - there might be a few more Apples sold to linux geeks who want to use photoshop occasionally and who choose mac os x over Windows
    - since Apple looks set to increase its markey share, there will be a greater proportion of people making the transition from a desktop computer usage to unix-geek computer usage, which means linux will benefit.

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